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The Upside of Negative Emotions


Presentation6.pptUpside of negative emotionsAdmit it!! You try to escape, or avoid negative emotions as soon as you experience any of these, right? It is no surprise. We’re programmed to do that one way or another. It’s painful to feel depressed, ashamed, anxious, guilty, and the host of other negative emotions. To many, these emotions convey weakness. We gravitate more towards positive emotions like joy, optimism, excitement, confidence, and other emotions that put us in a more upbeat mode. And we’re not to blame as these kinds of emotions don’t only feel good; they’re good for us. They propel us to achieve better results and have better life experiences, in general, all culminating in a more satisfying sense of well-being.

For years I trained myself to shift my negative states to more positive ones in attempts to practice and hone my emotional intelligence. I help my clients do the same, but only after exploring what these negative emotions are trying to tell them. While it is true that many people present to a professional needing relief after experiencing intense one or more negative emotion, little do they know that these negative emotions were – in the beginning – their allies. That same experience they complain from is actually directing them to grow somehow, to be different, to take action, or to understand what is going on. I must emphasize, here, that most negative emotions in their mild form have their upside. Taken to the extreme, they end up in the person being in what may seems like a quagmire of relentless agony.  What I will brief, next, is mainly based on scientific research.

Take, for instance, stress. We’re often warned that stress is the enemy. In its extreme, I won’t deny that it is highly correlated with a host of physical and psychological problems. What many don’t know, though, is that moderate stress is actually good for you. It builds you up with arousal to rise to the challenge, unleashes your creativity, gives your life meaning, and strengthens your psychobiological resilience. Think of “Post Traumatic Growth” which people experience after a stressful experience. Not only do people report that such times stretch their coping muscles, it also changes them to the better in ways they never considered before. They start viewing life matters in a totally new perspective.

Anxiety, too, has its upside. If it weren’t for anxious people forecasting a problematic future in some ways, many discoveries wouldn’t have been brought to life. Anxious people are important for the human race. They care enough, too, not to engage in risky behavior because they can foretell negative consequences. They are, also, appreciated more by their friends and acquaintances because they are more considerate than others. Some anxiety provides you with enough bodily arousal to manage important tasks (e.g. a presentation, or an exam). Without such alertness, perhaps things are taken lightly and performance remains below desired standards. Anxiety can equip you with plan “A”, “B”, “C”, etc… all part of being a bit pessimistic in case thing go wrong, so you’re often more ready than an optimistic anxiety-free person. It is true, though, that sometimes anxiety can be too intense and chronic; thus, hampers both wellbeing and daily functioning.

Even depression is frowned on, when research suggests that mood dips enhance cognitive functioning. Rumination is a way to solve problems and dig deep for answers. People become more detail oriented in such states and don’t miss out on information like happier counterparts would. If you have a project you’d like to undertake, consult with a depressed friend on their opinion. They’d surely help you uncover everything that could go wrong with it. Besides, low mood helps you communicate your feelings better (you’ve thought about things like a million times already and things are clearer by the time you open up).

What about anger? That emotion gives you power and can be used as a strategy to get what you want. In most instances, anger doesn’t escalate to aggression (so that’s good). It directs to problem solving and provides a lot of insight on important matters. Unexpressed anger, turns inward and leads to depression and other health-related issues. Anger masks a host of other negative emotions and tells you which of your values are being violated. When you express anger, you’d be giving the relationship with the other person more guidelines on what is possible and what is not. Beware of anger becoming a communication pattern and a personality style, as then it would convey only lack of control over ones’ responses.

Guilt plays a beautiful function too. It makes you rectify or make amends when you do others wrong. It’s your moral compass especially for conscientious folks. Consider those who commit felonies without any guilt. If guilt was not there to warn the culprit, bad deeds would continue. Can you imagine, then, the kind of world we’d be living in? When you feel guilty, you’re keeping your morals in check alright. Sometimes guilt hovers unnecessarily over one’s psyche and it is totally unwarranted, so we need to make a distinction here on when it is truly valid.

Remorse, similarly happens “after the fact” and makes you a wiser person for similar situations (which may never come), but at least, you can offer others sound advice based on first hand experiences. Regret helps you mature into becoming a wiser person who’s more careful and slower in important decision making; and who takes into account prior life lessons. When you ask yourself “what can I learn here?”, you’re making good use of remorse.

When we consider jealousy, what a motivator this emotion is to be a better version of yourself despite its negative connotation. Jealousy of others who are inspiring raises the bar for you to work harder. It is admiration that makes some people strive to reach similar levels for things that they value. Even moderate romantic jealousy tells the other person they’re important. When couples don’t experience jealousy, sometimes it is not interpreted as trusting too much, but, rather, as having no basis for caring at all….

The list can go on and on for the upside of other negative emotions. They’re important to make the human experience more whole. The light is appreciated more after the darkness. The same goes for positive and negative emotions. The trick is to make sure the experience remains in the milder zone and never to allow it to become chronic or too intense. This can be done through attempts at regulating one’s emotions and interrupting them from escalating. In the end, sadness brings you peace; fear brings you confidence; anger brings you power; confusion brings you clarity; guilt makes you grow; and regret makes you wiser. Aren’t we better off befriending what we resist?

Your Personal Coach

Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – Would You Rather Suffer, Or Just Be Pained?


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My earlier writings were about enhancing well-being, about facing challenges, about thriving not just surviving. Today, I feel I am addressing mere basics of surviving the insecurities surrounding living in Beirut (the new hub of random theft of lives).

Two consecutive car explosions in less than a week’s time took place ending so many precious lives at a time when we were to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Some of my closest friends lost their child (Mohammad Al Shaar) leaving them devastated, pained, & badly shaken…

Any one of us could have suffered the same fate…. The life of any other one we love could have been stolen just the same. Most of us, back here, feel the danger. Most of us feel the potential loss. Our survival with those we love is threatened at every second of the day….

As I empathize with the family of those deceased at both times, and as I recall my own earlier losses, one major blessing comes to mind. We are lucky that the intensity of all negative emotions (e.g. sadness, pain, anger,….), with time, wanes. Feelings don’t stay the same…

It’s been said that “time heals”. What it actually heals is the adverse emotions we feel. Think back of a time you went through a lot of distress. It could be months back or years. Unless you still suffer a major trauma, normally, you’ll notice that it doesn’t hurt as much & perhaps those negative emotions have disappeared.

What comes to mind now, also, are the stages that the terminally ill go through when facing imminent death. These are summarized by the acronym “DABDA”: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance. It is this last stage that brings again peace. What we resist persists; what we embrace gradually dissolves.

So how is this relevant to those insecure feelings that hover all over our lives during current times? It’s true we’re threatened. It’s true we could be terrified, angry, sad, pained, or depressed, but we’ll only bend; never break…. Our feelings will eventually change when we distract… So,

“Change the equation:

Pain + accepting = pain;

Pain + resisting = Suffering.

Pain is inevitable; Suffering is optional.” ~ 3Ds

No matter what happens. No matter what we lose. No matter what we face. We can finally choose to resume somewhat normal living despite the pain by remaining engaged. The alternative is to torment ourselves by staying locked in the vicious cycle of negative feelings & resist the idea that things happened.

I’ve seen so many people use their distress to ignite their thriving despite all insecurities. I’ve, also, seen pained people endlessly suffering.

What will be your choice in whatever you face?

Which equation with whatever feeling you have will you choose?

Your Personal Coach

  Dania

Time For Your Mind Gym – What Scares You?


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There are things that we all detest having; go great lengths to avoid facing; do our best to escape their encounter at every chance. These could be good for us, or bad.

I’m interested today in those unshared distressing ones that scare you. They either haunt you & you can’t keep them out of your mind, or you do your best shove them away somewhere behind.

Are you anywhere on the two poles of this continuum? If you obsess about these, you’re probably drained. And if you’re disregarding these, you’re in another way pained.

In both cases, you’re mostly anxious & scared. There’s no way out but to face these instead of letting it drag. If you want to get it over with, this cannot be spared.

“What we avoid, escape, or deny does not make it invisible. Chasing it down will eventually be that awaited miracle.” ~ 3Ds

Get off that seesaw; disrupt its presence; get down to its essence; fight it with all weapons…. In brief, start a well-planned chaos…

You wouldn’t want to remain at the mercy of its omnipotence & you’re certainly liberated once you remove the power it threatens….

Ughgh .. that feeling of being controlled! Come’on, precious, let’s be bold!! Did I just hear a lion’s “roar”?

Shiver me timbers… You give me goose bumps 🙂

Your Personal Coach

Dania

Time For Your “Mind Gym” – What Are You Hiding?


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Yes, you’re hiding something! & you know what? That’s okay. We all have private things (thoughts, stories, ideas, …) that we wouldn’t want to share. They could be dream-like nice fantasies; & they could be distressing memories, facts, or wounds that ignite your negative emotions when unleashed.

You may not be interested in playing “hide & seek” with what you hide. In fact, you may not want to seek to find what you’re hiding ever… That’s why you hide it to start with. But you know what? Whatever it is that you’re hiding comes to seek you every so often…. it remains there….

You can shove things under your memory carpet as you please. You can lock the doors to their accompanying emotions & throw the keys. And you can attempt to bury in the hollow their negative effects all you want to, but whatever you do, they’ll always find you & tease ….

They manifest themselves in multiple ways you don’t approve of, & seep out without your permission in no transient craze. It all stays; resulting in emotional eating, sleeping problem, and/or a bad habit that stays for long days…..

I often thought: “There are two types of wounds: Open wounds & closed ones. In human psyche, no closed wound is ever sealed tight enough.” ~ 3Ds

Some grow like a cyst causing so much pain. You leave it on its own hoping it heals. You put a plaster on it. You cover it up. You hide it. And it works sometimes to drain it out when it’s ready & ripe.

Still other cysts, & despite all attempts, just won’t recover. No attempt to hide & repair succeeds; & it all leaves you impaired with the manifestations compounding until you get scared.

Yes, open it up & dig for the roots. Get everything out & then slowly heal. What gets you cured is a surgical intervention. It may be unpleasant for a while, but is worth your intention….

It’s true you’ll get scarred, but aren’t we all… by far?

Can I tempt you to seek what you hide now? Come out, come out wherever you aaaaare…

Would you give your secret to just a trusted few? They’ll help you do the self-soothing later…

On your “Team” always: Your Personal Coach

          Dania

Am I Having the Worst Feeling or What?


In my line of practice, I usually work on transforming feelings of distress to those of empowerment. My clients come with different baggage, problems, and challenges. They all, however, share one commonality: A perception that they’re experiencing the “worst feeling” of all times. And it’s true. It’s all relevant to one’s character or situation. As our dialogue proceeds, and as they describe those “worst feelings”, I find myself oscillating between acknowledging how difficult these are on one hand, and aiming at alleviating their pain, on another. Respecting their decision to confide and share their deepest emotions always, my mind’s eye reaches out for the “greener side” of their life landscape. I need to help them shift their perception as they process all their negative emotions.

 As I listen to their experiences, my mind speaks before I can think; yells if I may. Sometimes my reasoning slips out loud in an instant. At other times, I direct our dialogue to support them reach more helpful conclusion. Here are some scenarios they voice out as “worst feelings”; and how my automatic “hunt” goes like for a more empowering stance to alleviate their predicaments every time: 

–          I’m having that worst “feeling of being all alone; I don’t have any good company!”

My mind yells: “Yes, honey, being alone is a terrible feeling; solitude can be bliss, if you think about it. Some people are yearning to be left alone. Do their own thing. No responsibilities attached to anyone else; no one telling them what to do; no one holding them from using their full potentials. If you can’t enjoy your own company, how do you expect anyone to enjoy yours? How can you better use your time to self-entertain and be happy with the only person you’re forever stuck with: YOU?”

–          I’m having the worst ”feeling of being all alone even in the company of others”

My mind yells: “Aha!! Here’s someone who is on a different wavelength from those all around. That’s the perfect chance to check for their uniqueness. I bet they’re the “deeper” type.  Let me tell you this gorgeous: You may just be affiliating with the wrong crowd. Where can you find your type? Let’s check how you’re like and examine your options. Maybe you need to go on a “search” for those of your kind…. Expand your “network” is your next step ….

–          I’m having that worst “feeling of having no choice!”

My mind yells: “Are you serious, sugar? You always have a choice; what you actually “do” may be different. You daily choose what to eat, dress like, or do, … Choosing “not to do” remains a choice. And if you’re driven into a situation by force, the way you react to it remains your choice. Perhaps it’s just that your choice in that specific situation has difficult repercussions. You can deal with it if you’re really determined, don’t you now? Just don’t generalize feeling powerless to all else in your life. Keep choosing to have the right attitude at all times.”

–          I’m having that worst “feeling of having been stabbed in the back!!”

My mind yells: “oh sweetheart, this is how you learn who’s friend and who’s foe. You’ll find those people who’ll love you and support you just as you will find those whose whole life purpose may be that of bringing you down. Give a listening ear to your internal detectors. You knew it all along; you just weren’t paying attention. Learn from it and move on….”

–          I’m having this worst “feeling of being changed into a person I’m not”

My mind yells: “oh my, oh my…. Why would you easily allow that angel? Where’s your strength of character? Right, it’s not that solid…. Perhaps we need to toughen that base as a start. You can’t possibly be comfortable living in your own skin if you let others define who you really are. It would never be your core, would it?”

–          I’m having this worst “feeling of being so incomplete, so not up to the expectations, so imperfect…”

My mind yells: “Good God, how I wished we could all be complete at some point during our life-time. Engage in downward comparison, precious. That old adage: “things could be worse” comes in quite handy in this case. Examine those less fortunate. You’re probably comparing yourself with those who you think have it all. You don’t truly know what they’re struggling with in their lives, minds, or hearts. They may just be similarly striving for perfection; and are in fact dealing with their own @#/!#@. Perfection is too far-fetched, dear, but at least it keeps us busy working on it.”

–          I’m having the worst “feeling of having lost a dear one in my life”

My heart sinks…..

My mind stops yelling….

I empathize….

I become all heart……..

Could this be the worst feeling of all, I wonder? They’ll have to form an alliance with “time”…. I’ll be their spiritual crutches …… then… I’ll be watching them grow…..

Snap Out Of It: Dissociate. Here Is The “How”


Disappointment, discouragement, hopelessness, helplessness, or sadness are but few of the negative states that can put us in a depressed mood. The reasons vary; and when horrific things happen, negative emotions become paralleled with foggy thinking. We may become imprisoned by a chain of negative thinking until our emotions change to the better. Great…., but how do our feelings change? Would you wait for them to change on their own, or rely on external factors to make it happen? What if that doesn’t take place soon enough? How about you play a more active role instead of waiting? Consider the options you have when you find yourself in a depressed mood. You have at least 3:

  1. Stay in your negative state, beat yourself up with further distressing thoughts, and worsen your mood further.
  2. Kick away those negative feelings directly and bounce back to an opposite state as if nothing happened (more like denying yourself any experience of negative feelings).
  3. Allow yourself to stay there a bit just to process what triggered your bad mood; then, change state and focus on finding solutions.

 

It goes without saying that the nature and the magnitude of the trigger can place you somewhere on that continuum at first; nonetheless, you have a choice to move out, away, or into healthier responding. But which of the above three options do you think is considered “healthier responding”? You deserve to live your life fully, so why restrict yourself to negative states? Hence, the first option is by no means the best choice. One of the beauties of being human is that you have feelings; and to deny yourself getting in touch with your feelings only deprives you of your humanity and gets you in more complicated emotional problems. Hence, denying yourself the variety of emotional experiences is, similarly, unwise. The second option, therefore, is ruled out. This leaves you with option three. Do I hear you say: “Easier said than done!” or “you don’t know what you’re talking about; it’s too difficult to snap out of it”? Let me suggest a tool I often use in therapy and coaching. It’s called “Dissociation”. Many use it intuitively, and it has widespread other uses besides changing states.

 

Sit in a quiet comfortable place in solitary. Start a mental scan of the events that precipitated your bad mood. If you’re unable to identify a specific event for your low mood, just examine how the previous hours went by. You’ll be surprised as to how easily the main cause emerges.

 

Assess: Start processing your feelings (processing here means identifying and labeling your feelings). Delve behind the feelings for reasons; analyze and dissect the situation into its main components. Your thoughts about it will feed into your feeling further down, so just allow yourself, then, to be fully associated with your negative state (i.e. feel, visualize, and hear the external and internal dialogues).

 

Dissociate: When you’re through this examination, physically stand up and face the place you were sitting in. It may seem bizarre the first time, but you’re alone (hopefully) and no one will wonder what in the world you’re doing (keep playing the game of dissociation). Visualize yourself sitting in that seat (make a mental picture of how you were sitting exactly – the other you). Imagine that the one standing, now, is your best friend (i.e. the best friend of the one sitting). Being your best friend now, what would you objectively advise the person in front of you to think feel, and do? Narrate the counter arguments of the situation, draw attention to the bigger picture, list the empowering possibilities, and reignite that person into a better mood.

 

Associate: Bring in several memories of times that you felt totally happy, confident, motivated, or any other positive state. Associate yourself with those good feelings every time by mentally visualizing each of those incidents, seeing all the details, hearing all the sounds, and re-living those feelings that dominated then. Let the picture become brighter, the sounds become louder, and allow those feelings to grow each time. Finally, get back into the body of the person sitting in that place (both mentally and physically). You still carry those positive vibes, so just permit them some time to take over that prior state as if you were receiving the new empowering vibes now.

 

When you do this, you will realize how much our thoughts affect our internal states. It is very easy to give in to negative thinking, but these exacerbate our negative emotions. If you want to snap out of it, just allow yourself some time to process what happened then change your thoughts. Changing your thoughts guarantees a change of state. Now you know how you can do that. Dissociate, but follow that with associating into good memories. Says who you cannot be the nautical wheeler of navigating your own ship of emotions?..….

The #1 Stress Buster: Deep Breathing


In my last post, I listed the top 10 “Stress Busters” used usually to cope with experienced stress. They can, also, be utilized to prevent stress escalation. To me, the number one “Stress Buster” is the “Deep Breathing” technique. I advocate it, all the time, because it is easy to implement and quick to take effect. Not only do we use it to alleviate stress, we use it to control anger and anxieties when these kick in. It is very effective if used in anticipation of fear-provoking situations (e.g. public speaking, fear of flying, etc…). Deep Breathing is usually used in meditation; and as the first stage to get into trance in hypnosis. There is no doubt about the relaxing effects it has on both body and mind. Fretting, fuming, and impulsive reactions are rendered, simply, impossible.

 To be effective, however, it requires some “know how”; and just a little time to master it. You need to forget the chest breathing you’re used to and be focused on more abdominal breathing. Here is how the process goes:

 1. Sit in a comfortable position and have the intention to relax yourself.

2. Start by taking a very deep slow breath. Inhale through your nose to the count of 4 until your abdomen rises.

 3. Hold that breath inside to the count of 2. Tell yourself: “I’m relaxing. I feel relaxed.”

 4. Exhale through open lips to the count of 8 feeling your abdomen go back to its normal position.

 5. Hold for a count of 4.

 6. Notice your body relaxing.

7. Repeat steps 2 to 6 at least 10 times.

You can do this simple exercise many times during the day, or whenever you face a stressful situation. It works wonders in speedily calming you down. I was suggesting this technique to a client of mine who had to deal with a lot of anxieties. As soon as I was done explaining the process, she protested by telling me: “You mean I have to breathe every time I feel anxious?” I was surprised and told her: “You’re breathing anyway and all the time to just survive. The difference, now, is you’ll be doing it more slowly and consciously….”  🙂

The Stigma of Psychotherapy…. And now Coaching!!


So I am a psychotherapist….. yeah, that line of practice surrounded by confidentiality, secrecy, pain, distress, and all sorts of tabooed venting….. I’d rather refer to myself as a counselor so as to avoid the “therapy” word in “psychotherapy”. Therapy connotes malady which already is disempowering to any prospective client. I, also, am a hypnotherapist. It still has the “therapy” word, but even if I change it to hypnotist, both are equally scary to those who have not tried it, or listened to my thorough explanation debunking all misconceptions. I, additionally, incorporate “Life Coaching” to my practice specifically to offset the harrowing effects surrounding the process of my dealing with too much psychological distress. Coaching, although confidential like therapy, is more upbeat and cheerful. People who seek coaching are those who function just well, but who want to become exceptional and more fulfilled. Those who seek psychotherapy are mainly dysfunctional, but are daring enough to face issues standing in their way of normal functioning like the average person does.

So what’s with that introduction about what I do? Picture this: The sign at my office door has my name and the several titles I hold below it: Life and Career Coach, Counselor, Hypnotherapist, and Trainer. I usually keep my door closed when I’m with a client. I keep my business card (that has my contact information) below the sign in case someone passing by is enthused to take an appointment. When the card is removed (which is often repeated), I replace it by a new one. I got a message the other day on my mobile by an anonymous asking whether I had another office elsewhere. Anonymous reflected concern and hesitation in coming to my clinic, so I simply explained that it’s not a clinic; it’s just an office. I stressed my theory on clients in counseling as individuals who are not coping well; and that they are not sick people. I added that the only office I met clients in was that little place. How I wished I could add I already pay a high rent for that location. A week later, I got another message from the same anonymous. This time giving her name and expressing the same concern. “I have a lot of issues to discuss with you, but I don’t know if I will have the courage to actually take an appointment. People know me on that floor and I don’t want to be seen there.” she explained. That’s it!! I called her. I didn’t want to keep discussing things through messages. When we talked, she seemed like a young lady who badly needed someone to talk to. After some give and take, I explained that I could see her at times when all other adjacent offices ended their operations. She said she’ll think about it.

Our conversation was like a kick in my chest. It dredged up all past misdemeanors which made me grapple with the idea of stigma surrounding psychotherapy in Lebanon. I was fully aware that my clients in counseling are not too comfortable letting others know about their seeking professional support. I never asked them for my website testimonial despite how much it would add. I base my practice highly on referrals, but people rarely mention undergoing therapy. Most of the time, it is knowledge of someone else who does. Gladly, I have hypnotherapy that branches out from my practice. Unfortunately, that, too, is unfathomed by many except those who have guts and are open to try it (and then ignorance around it transpires favorably). But hey…. I am, also, involved in coaching – the luxury service – that few choose to indulge in. I boost all up with NLP techniques. Helllloooo….I tackle self-development in a variety of ways. To my disappointment, lately, I feel the same reluctance to share with others the idea of being supported impinging and stretching repeatedly to include my clients in coaching as well. And I’m like: “what the heeeellll????” Whatever is discussed remains confidential, but the process of having your own personalized paid-for support system doesn’t have to be. Is it too ego-threatening to mention that they are visiting this hothouse of growth? WHAT’S WITH YOU PEOPLE????

OK, some self- therapy needed:

 Identify your emotion Dania: Frustration

Pin point the accompanying repercussions: boiling inside, disgruntled, feeling misunderstood, my office seems to trigger trepidation, this secrecy is counterproductive to what I do, people are ungrateful (I know they all benefit so much), powerless over this one, reaching an impasse, doubting my career choice, dim future vision, slowly sliding into oblivion, it’s going to be way tougher than I thought, more questioning: so is that why many say they will resort to being coached but never start?…….

Change perspective to feel better: Don’t get narrow focused on those who don’t talk about it. There are a few who do. Dania….., you know you’re good at what you do. You always say: “Stir it up or down; left or right; the cream always rises to the top”. Patience precious, patience….. The stigma will surround nothing soon. You’re just now fanning the flames of psychotherapy in the most positive attractive approach. You’re just introducing coaching to your community and even created an association to facilitate that. Your diligent approach on emphasizing self-development will come to fruition. You have friends who resort to you for psychological comfort all the time. Together with your clients who already engaged in the escapade and are experiencing the sing-song effect, these should suffice to eliminate any self-doubt. So what if a few remain secretive? It’s not like nobody is saying any good word about you, is it? Besides you are a psychology instructor and a trainer. There’s no stigma attached to these two areas. You get a lot of satisfaction there. Shrug it off!!

Identify new emotion: Mental toxins flushed out 🙂 Feeling better 🙂

Future vision: I believe I can support people change in so many good ways if they choose to. If they choose not to lift up the secrecy veil, then it’s their world and I cannot intrude or impose. I am building awareness with all these blocks being thrown at me. My efforts can’t but spell success; I am sure…..

Self-Therapy session concluded.

Feeling waaaaay better 🙂

What Hypnotherapy Is (And Some Misconceptions)


There are many misconceptions surrounding hypnotherapy at a time when it is only a process of inducing a very relaxed physical and mental state (i.e. a trance) more like guided day-dreaming or meditation. The hypnotherapist, in this process, supports you work-out being stuck, modify maladaptive behavior, or eliminate stressors in multiple ways. Effecting positive change can range from curing phobias, to dealing with low self-esteem, to resolving repressed traumas, to installing new beliefs, and many more….. The whole idea of inducing a trance is to facilitate your getting in touch with your unconscious mind – that part of your mind that has command over much of your behavior, emotions, and ingrained beliefs; hence, make important life transformations. During the process, your conscious mind is asked to relegate to the periphery. It is that logical analytical part of your mind that has everything you are aware of at the moment (i.e. the spotlight mechanism directing your attention to your thoughts, feelings, and behavior). You may wonder: why, then, seek the unconscious mind during hypnotherapy?

Your conscious mind is deliberate and has limited capacity. It relies heavily on the automatic unconscious mind to deal with overwhelming diversified other functions. Known for multi-tasking, your unconscious mind is by far the larger store of all your memories and is the domain of your emotions both of which continue to have influence over you without your awareness. Your unconscious mind is guided by the principle of least effort and loves repetition; thus, is responsible for creating and maintaining your habits (of thought and behavior). Your perceptions are formed, controlled, and are similarly maintained by your unconscious mind; hence, internal and external events are interpreted through schemas formulated at the unconscious level. For your protection, your unconscious mind represses memories of unresolved negative emotions as well as thoughts that are too anxiety provoking for your conscious awareness (i.e. ideas you’d spank yourself real hard for even considering). It, furthermore, runs and preserves your bodily process (e.g. you don’t notice that your heart beats, nor are you aware of your stress hormones being released in your system). No wonder, then, we seek to communicate with your unconscious mind to involve the whole of your mental processes in working for you; not against you.

In hypnotherapy, the aim is to tackle any concerns controlled by your unconscious mind (and these are plenty as briefed above). To help you speed up processes of change, hypnosis takes a short cut targeting the root causes of behavior, beliefs and emotions. Many prominent figures used hypnosis to enhance their achievement like: Mozart, Thomas Edison, Einstein, Sir Winston Churchill, and Henry Ford to name a few. Others used it to overcome their life tragedies (e.g. Jackie Kennedy-Onassis), beat the habit of smoking (e.g. Drew Barrymore), or make it as champions (e.g. Tiger Woods). To date, many are still reluctant to take this quick fix because of many circulated popular misconceptions that portray hypnosis as scary or dangerous. Frequently asked questions are addressed herein to clarify:

–       Is hypnosis really safe? Yes, hypnosis is a normal state that you go in and out of everyday without noticing. Spacing out while driving, or being totally engrossed in a movie are trance-like states. An autopilot takes over and you’d be totally absorbed in focus. The state induced in hypnotherapy is very similar. The difference is that your focus will be totally inward on your internal states in a dream-like fashion. After a session, many wonder whether they were in fact hypnotized, as the induced state resembles so much normal experiences. There are no mysteries about it and no magic (though I consider the after effects more like “white magic”).

 –       Do I end-up sharing my deepest secrets? No, you won’t say anything you’d rather remain private; and you can openly express your reluctance to share your secrets during the session. It helps more, though, if you verbalize your thoughts out, as your hypnotherapist will better be able to guide you in resolving any issue. Besides, why would you be reluctant to talk about what bothers you? Get it off your shoulders. Confidentiality of anything you discuss is ensured through-out the process. That’s an oath your hypnotherapist abides by all the time.

 –       What if I am the type who cannot be hypnotized (i.e. I’m un-suggestible)? Everyone can be hypnotized. We are in trance at least twice a day: when we wake up in the morning and as we fall asleep. It is your choice to willingly collaborate with your hypnotherapist or not; go deeper or not; cooperate to solve what’s bothering you or decide to forfeit the highway to effecting positive change. It is known that smart people are easily hypnotized because they can easily follow instructions. It’s not a sign of being too gullible, weak-minded or submissiveness. Hypnosis just creates the space for solving problems. And practically we all get immersed in our own thought processes whether we like it or not. The only difference in a hypnotic session is that you will have someone guiding you through the process to achieve the outcomes you desire.

 –       What if my hypnotherapist suggests that I do things I don’t approve of (e.g. robbing a bank or take off my clothes)? You will never do anything that violates your values or find objectionable in normal circumstances. This myth has grounds in stage hypnosis during which extroverted people volunteer to be in the arena. They totally let go of their inhibition and engage in outlandish behavior. It’s their choice to be in the spotlight, but clearly have an excuse by blaming it on the hypnotist. You can always check the credentials of your hypnotherapist (many charlatans have intruded on the profession and Hollywood movies jazzed up their stories by making up such exciting scenarios). Certified hypnotherapists abide by a code of ethics and would definitely not cross the lines.

–       Would I be completely under the control of the hypnotherapist? No, you won’t. The degree of control over you is only that which you allow. Your conscious mind will keep track of all the session details while you do the change work with your unconscious mind. Your hypnotherapist will merely suggest imagery and thoughts that instill a new way of being (one that you choose). You remain at all times in charge of accepting the suggestions or not. You are the one in control of your heightened state of alertness, memory, and concentration. If for any reason your hypnotherapist says anything you don’t agree with, you can still control the flow of the session and express your disapproval. It’s not that you are stripped of any power; on the contrary.

 –       Will I forget what went on during the session? No, you won’t unless it’s a therapeutically induced amnesia to forget a past trauma (the light can be made dimmer on distressing memories). The empowering suggestions by your hypnotherapist will linger and you will remember everything that took place during the session. The suggestions are repeated continuously to become your new driving force. These will positively influence the way you behave and emotionally react to life events. Unless you are motivated to forget and express that to your hypnotherapist, it is not usually the norm.

 –       Would I sleep during hypnosis? And what if I don’t wake up? Although many use the term “sleep” to induce hypnosis, it is not “sleeping” per se. It just refers to a state akin to “sleeping” when you experience utmost relaxation and calmness. It differs with sleeping because your senses remain alert during hypnosis. They don’t shut down.  You, especially focus more on your hypnotherapist’s voice. I personally prefer to use the term “relax” instead of “sleep” just so it eliminates this confusion. Never worry about not being able to return from trance; the choice to return to your previous state remains up to you any time. And when the session is over, you will always feel more refreshed, invigorated, and more empowered. If for any reason you do fall asleep (i.e. because you’re very tired), you will easily be awakened when I tell you that you’ll be charged extra for “over-using” that relaxing chair :).

 As a final note and after clarifying the above misconceptions, a survey of the psychotherapy literature by psychologist Alfred A. Barrios, Ph.D. (published in the American Health Magazine) revealed that hypnotherapy recovery rates after 6 sessions were 93%. Using Psychoanalysis, recovery rates were 38% after 600 sessions. Using Behavioral Therapy, recovery rates were 72% after 22 sessions. Knowing all this by now, are you prompted to take a short cut to effecting positive change through hypnosis, or would you rather keep postponing?

Note: Please refer to “Contact 3Ds” on this website if you need to know more about hypnotherapy or benifit from this service.

 

 

Categories: stress, Therapy, unconscious mind Tags:

When You Can’t “Undo” It, “Re-do” it!


Wouldn’t it be great if we had the ability to press “undo” for some past events we don’t fully approve of just as we do on a “word document”? Unfortunately, in real life, the potential for unhappy life experiences is loaded; and we are not equipped with a similar opportunity when things go wrong. We often say things we regret. We find ourselves in embarrassing or painful situations. We even acquire many fears and phobias following just one ill-fated accident. And then, we beat ourselves up repeatedly with the memory until the negative feelings compound and restrict our ability to move forward. We get cornered in between self created confining walls and feel stuck because we carry a heavy baggage of all sorts of guilt, shame, or fear that keep one in place. So, then what do we do?

Well…. Maybe you cannot totally “undo” a previous incident, but there is a smart way to go about it if you have exhausted all other resources to rectify. You can learn your lesson, forgive yourself, minimize the importance of the whole event, and water down the intensity of any corresponding negative feelings. Time can surely heal, but things may drag. It’s more empowering to speed up the process, assume control and lift up your own spirits. Here is one sure way derived from NLP techniques to help you “re-do” what can’t be undone. It makes use of humor and visual minimization. We all know that humor can be a good coping mechanism to deal with difficulty. And we unknowingly and un-deliberately use both minimization and humor to deal with many tough realities. The following exercise combines both in a much more concentrated effort when the need arises.

Imagine yourself sitting all alone in a cinema holding in your hand a remote control that starts a movie on a big screen in front of you. You can control when the movie starts, stops, and play some scenes forward or backward. You can similarly control the sound, color, how fast the scenes go, and even the size of the image. This cinema is the “change workplace”. As you sit there, start playing the episode of that phobic or distressing situation. Watch it all happen slowly. You may experience some discomfort, but that’s Okay. Let it wash over you for the last time. If the anguish is too intense (in cases of phobias), stop the scene, rewind and play it again until you’re able to watch it all through. Tell yourself: “I need to face this for the last time”. When you succeed, stop and re-play the scene backward to the start. Watch it all in reverse (you or others talking or walking backward, etc…).

Next, run the movie from start really fast this time up to the critical moment (taking only a second or two); then run it backward as fast again. Do it a couple of times (i.e. fast forward and backward). The final stage is that of intervention and “re-doing”. Play the scene forward shrinking the image in size till it becomes the size of a postage stamp towards the end. Do this a second time playing forward adding some humor. You can insert the sound of some circus music in the scene and/or make the voices of you or others talking really funny. Add the voices of other spectators laughing as if watching a comedy sitcom while clowns jump around in funny maneuvers. Shrink the scene again as you play it forward. Repeat the same process playing it backward then forward as fast as you can until you feel that your worries greatly diminished and faded away.

When you think about the situation now, you won’t find it as disturbing or fearful as it was earlier. And if there are still any major residues, smooth it over by playing around that movie some more each time adding funny things and fading the colors and the size of the scene. The shift in your new experienced feelings will simply be magical. “Redoing” the episode this way will make you feel lighter and alters your state from that of bemoaning to owning a change in course. Why not save your time, attention, and energy to focus away from that experience and build new positive bridges. Whatever you nurture grows much bigger in size just as a shadow is of any respective object. And you need to accept that some “stains” are difficult to “undo”, and it is much easier to throw a garment than to dispose of our self-image. And unless you decide to let go, and actively shrink that memory, you will remain disempowered and stagnate. Active self-healing may be necessary to speed up the process of discounting the perils of a gloomy past episode, so better not rely only on time to do the work.

 

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